Classic Movie Review: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

Posted: December 27, 2015 in Action, Drama
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star wars the force awakens

The force is bending towards the Dark Side once again, as the First Order is in firm control, and the rebellion is in retreat.  Finn (John Boyega) a conscripted Storm Trooper sees the massacre of a village in Jakku, and decides to join the resistance.  Finn escapes the First Order with the help of a pilot for the resistance pilot named Poe. (Oscar Isaac) No sooner do they almost escape when Poe tells Finn he must retrieve a BB8 droid with important information on it.  The droid is now being taken care of by Rey (Daisy Ridley) who scavenges scrap metal and sells it for food.

On the way back to Jakku, the tie fighter crashes, Poe and Finn are separated, and now it is Rey and Finn’s turn to escape from Jakku.  Rey flies an aging rustbucket of a ship away from Jakkku, with Finn manning the weapons. When they are cornered on the ship by smugglers, Rey and Finn get some timely help, and fly to Takondana to meet Maz Kanata, (Lupita Nyongo) a mystic who tells Rey and Finn more about their future.  Finn and Rey still have doubts about their roles in the resistance.

While the resistance may be strengthened with the addition of Rey and Finn, the First Order has a new source of power named Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) who is under the tutelage of The Supreme Leader, Snoke (Andy Serkis), who is schooling Kylo on the finer points of The Dark Side.  Kylo also has a new weapon to play with, a weapon that is aimed at the planets of the Republic, which support the resistance. Kylo just wants an excuse to test his new weapon out. Do Finn and Rey banish their doubts and help the rest of the resistance and stop Kylo Ren from using his new weapon?

I love this movie.  JJ Abrams and Lawrence Kasden (who helped George Lucas write the first Star Wars movie) seamlessly integrate new and old characters and plotlines into one cohesive story.  The new characters seem to mirror some of the old ones, but not in such an obvious way that it would turn off a veteran viewer of the Star Wars saga.  There was one aspect of the plot which I didn’t like, but overall the story is well told, and brings many disparate aspects together harmoniously.

The acting is stellar.  John Boyega is outstanding as Finn who is conflicted by his friendship for Poe and Rey and his desire for self-preservation.  Boyega also gives Finn a false bravado that gives the character a nice comedic touch. Oscar Isaac uses all the wit, charm, and intelligence he displayed in Inside Llewyn  Davis to make Poe a likable character.  Daisy Ridley is the real find here, she shows astonishing range, vulnerable in one scene, fighting convincingly in the next.  She also has good chemistry with Boyega, and that is key to the story as well.  Lupita Nyongo eschews her beauty and plays a character role, quite convincingly I might add.  Whatever they paid Harrison Ford to reprise his role as Han Solo, it wasn’t enough, he plays Han as the crotchety old codger, he’s basically playing himself, but it works so well for this character.  Carrie Fisher acquits herself nicely, she still has great timing and chemistry with Ford, and their scenes together are a treat. The one fly in the ointment was Adam Driver as Kylo Ren, he looked like Gene Simmons and delivered his lines with the blandness of Hayden Christiansen.

The direction by Abrams is also superior, the pacing is excellent.  For a two hour and 15 minute movie, the scenes were lightning quick and action packed, and yet had backstory.  There were enough scenes reminiscent of A New Hope to make a veteran of these films comfortable, yet this movie can stand on its own too.  Abrams gets great performances from his cast, which includes a lot of newcomers.  Some of the scenes are predictable, but they had to be included in in the film because they are expected in a film like this.  Abrams had a lot of pressure on him to make a good film, and he did.  So all the rotten things I said about the later seasons of Lost, and Cloverfield, and the two Star Trek movies are forgotten, for now.

Star Wars The Force Awakens:  Abrams not sleepwalking through this movie.


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